When you are tired of Taichung’s concrete jungle, Dasyueshan is the place to go.
I admit, we are quite partial to Dasyueshan Forest Recreational Area.
Since my first visit in Taiwan, my wife and I have been several times here. We have brought here our friends … we really like this beautiful part of Taichung City!
The area score several points:
- Dasyueshan is really beautiful. It is a good example of Taiwan mountains. You can find all the main features in one place: divine trees, wild animals, misty forests, blossoming rhododendrons … as well as fresh air and tranquility, just 2-3 hours drive from Taichung.
- The area comprises different kinds of high mountain forest between 2000 and 3000 meters of altitude.
- Dasyueshan is the mecca for Taiwan bird watchers. International bird watching tours often include the Recreation Area. Actually, as happened to us, Mikado pheasants and rock monkeys can be spotted from the road!
- You can find several different trails, from the easy ones to the more challenging, equipped with fixed ropes.
- Going to Dasyueshan is part of the fun! The Recreation Area is at the end of a 50 km long scenic mountain road. The road is good and quiet. Big buses are not allowed.
- Dasyueshan is not commercial at all. Eyesores are not allowed in the Recreational Area.
- You still will find decent facilities, such as visitor centers, wooden cottages, a simple restaurant and a couple of basic shops providing instant noodles. Nothing else!
About Dasyueshan Forest Recreation Area
Dasyueshan history is similar to other natural parks in Taiwan. It was a logging station before and after WWII.
As usual in Taiwan, names have different “romanizations” such as Syaosyueshan and Xiaoxueshan. This is going to change in a few years, since the Hanyu Pinyin have won the battle but, for the moment, many old terms still resist.
Later, when the logging activity ceased, Dasyueshan became a Recreation Area open to the public.
Many patches of virgin forests and giant “divine trees” have been preserved.
Daxueshan is not as popular – and commercial – as Hsitou or Alishan. Most of the people coming here on weekends are serious hikers or bicycle enthusiasts.
We really admire the bikers, the road reaches 2,600 meters of altitude. It is a long serious climb, not any less than the most challenging Alpine rides!
Hikes and places
Dasyueshan can be only accessed by the long and winding Forest Road 200 – road conditions are (normally) much better than you would expect from its name!
Forest Road 200 starts in Dongshih, a Hakka town in Taichung County. All the facilities and the trails starting points are situated along the road, so it is easy to find them.
Km 27 – Yuanzueishan Shaolaishan trails
The parking lot is also the trail starting point. It is just after the narrow Henglingshan Tunnel (a one way tunnel, drive with caution). On weekends many people gather here because the parking is before the ticket booth – so it is free.
You can start the trail after passing the tunnel, on the right of the same. The first part is very rocky, steep but short (see the picture). Or you can start the trail a few meters on the left of the tunnel, on a much easier footpath.
The section from the Pavilion to Yuanzuei Mountain top (2130 m) is challenging, with fixed ropes and ladders. This part is great fun but suitable only to the fit and experienced.
The whole trail, from the parking lot at Km 27 to the ticket booth at Km 35, should take around 4-5 hrs. From the ticket booth you have to walk back on the road or ask for a lift (ask it before it is too late, after sunset the road is deserted).
A gorgeous broadleaf forest covers the lower part of the area, just above the parking lot. The shrill of cicadas in summer is deafening. Really an alluring place …
We provide below a picture of the map of the area, as displayed on signposts in Yuanzueishan. Use this map with more than a grain of salt, as is not in scale. It is just good for a general orientation.
Km 43 – Anmashan
Anmashan has the feeling of a small mountain village, with the Recreation Area Headquarters, a restaurant, wooden cottages that are often fully booked on weekends, a brand new Visitor Center.
At 2275 meters of altitude, Anmashan is in the “misty forest”. Fog rises in the afternoons and rains often occur.
The forest in Anmashan is a mix of broad leaves trees and conifers. The woods are spotted with pink and white when rhododendrons (as big as small trees) blossom in spring.
A small network of trails extends below the Headquarters. All the trails are suited to everybody. The longest and by far the best leads to the Small Divine Tree, an outstanding red cypress on the southern slope of the Anmashan ridge.
The Small Divine Tree footpath starts on the western edge of the Headquarters, close to the restaurant and the wooden cottages. Just follow the signs.
For a while the trail goes downhill, then ascends gently after the Divine Tree. The trail reaches the Forest Road 200 at the Km 41 signpost. To go back to Anmashan parking lot you can follow the paved road.
All the way to Km 41 and back takes about 1.5-2 hours. The trail is easy but always interesting and scenic. Foxgloves give a definite Alpine feeling in summer.
Km 48 – Yakou Observation Deck
Uh? I confess we have never been there. I thought it was not so interesting, until I prepared this web page and I had the chance to watch some photos. It is a 3 store Observation Deck, on a ridge, 600 meters far from the road. The panorama should be quite impressive on a sunny and clear morning, before the fog rises.
Km 49 – Syaosyueshan
The part of the road open to the casual tourist ends here. At 2,600 meters above the sea level, the air is thin and brisk all the year … and the sun is strong!
Syaosyueshan is on a saddle on the Xueshan ridge. From here you could trek all the way to Sheba National Park.
But, unless you have a mountain permit and days to spare, you have to be content of the super easy and short walks to Tienchih Lake and the Big Divine Tree (also called Sacred Tree).
Tienchih Lake can be reached with an easy walk uphill in around 15 minutes. It is just a mountain pond, along a fault line, with water all year round. From here you can walk to another Parking Lot and downhill, on a easy road, to the majestic Divine Tree of Syaosyueshan.
The trees here are mainly conifers, such as red and yellow cypresses, pine and firs.
The Big Divine Tree is one of the giants of the Taiwan forests. The majestic red cypress is 1,400 years old and 50 meters high.
From the Divine Tree some trails look like are going further but they actually end very soon. You have to come back on the same road.
Anyway, as showed on the official maps (or map sketches) a trail follows all the ridge down to Shaolaishan. It should be an interesting and long walk.
How to get to Dasyueshan
- By Car:
- From the Highway n. 1 or n. 3 turn to the Highway n. 4 to the East (Dongshih).
- Follow the Highway n. 4 to the end.
- At the traffic light turn left and follow the National Road n. 3.
- Drive for about 10 Km until the road turn left and cross the big Dongfong bridge.
- Just after the bridge, before entering Dongshih, turn right on the National Road n. 8.
- After about 2 km, at a traffic light, turn left (brown touristic sign to Dasyueshan) on a small road then right after 50-100 meters.
- Now you are on the Forest Road 200 that winds up to Dasyueshan trough fruit orchards.
- Click here for a route map!
- By Scooter or Bicycle: From Taichung go north to Tamzi and Fongyuan, then you can join the itinerary in Shihgang
- Other: There is only one bus service to Alishan. You have to take the Fengyuan bus #252 from Dongshi at 9.30 AM. It runs only on weekends. You can also ask outdoor shops and hiking clubs in Taichung. Some of them organize weekend trips to Dasyueshan. Also birdwatching clubs organize trips to this mountain.
- Admission Fee:
- Adult 150-200 NTD
- Children 100 NTD
- Parking Fee:
- Car: 100 NTD
- Motorcycle: 20 NTD
- Opening Hour: 6:30 AM ~ 5:00 PM everyday
- Different kind of wooden cottages are available in Anmashan
- Daily rate around 2,000 NTD
- For Booking: http://tsfs.forest.gov.tw/cht/index.php?act=resveration (only in Chinese)
- Admission Fee: